Buying A Boat In Australia

Buying A Boat In Australia

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

When it comes to lifestyle investments, it doesn’t get much better than owning a boat – a guaranteed way to inject more freedom and adventure into your life!

But there is a lot to consider before you set sail.

Here, we navigate the steps to buying a boat in Australia.

Setting Your Budget

Whether you want a used tinny or a brand-new superyacht, how much you have to spend is consideration number one.

Plenty of factors affect the cost of boat ownership, but doing your sums early is the key to smooth sailing.

Start with size: picture the trips you’ll take and who’ll join you.

Once you narrow down your preferred vessel, add ongoing expenses, bearing in mind that maintenance and storage – equal, on average, to about 10% of the cost of your boat – are investments, essential to lifespan and resale value.

Budget also for fuel and insurance, setting aside some money for safety equipment and accessories.

Once you arrive at a figure, you may apply for finance pre-approval, which is usually valid for up to 90 days.

As well as giving you a spending limit, finance pre-approval lets sellers know you’ve done your homework and are serious.

We wrote an article detailing all the costs of boat ownership in Australia that is worth a read when budgeting for your boat purchase.

Choosing The Right Boat

With the financial process underway, you’ll have a solid idea of what you’re buying.

Now, it’s time to decide whether you’ll buy new or used.

Both have their advantages!

Used boats naturally cost less upfront, with a 2-year-old boat (still pretty new) up to 20 per cent cheaper than its showroom counterpart.

Because boat model cycles are pretty long, you may even save a few grand on the same model that’s selling new now.

Buying used also means that the previous owner has worn the first couple of years’ depreciation; has likely taken care of any issues, and may throw in used gear.

On the flip side, new boats are worry-free, lower-maintenance, and under warranty – plus, you can customise your purchase.

Buying new also saves you shopping around – dealers handle a lot of the headache, and you can take your time knowing the boat won’t be snapped up while you decide.

Arrange A Viewing and Sea Trial

You’d never buy a car without a test drive, and you shouldn’t buy a boat without a viewing and a sea trial.

Start by scanning inside and out for mould, rust, and leaks. Be sure to survey storage space – and the smell!

Then, take the boat through her paces to assess handling, speed, size, comfort, turning circle and safety in a ‘real world’ setting.

Have a go at being both captain and passenger – sit in different spots, walk about the deck, steer and brake.

If you’re a novice, take someone who knows boats, or even enlist the expertise of a marine surveyor.

Leave your rose-coloured glasses at home, and remember, a fair trial can last hours to days – a reluctant seller could be a red flag!

Negotiation and Closing The Deal

Whether you buy from a private seller or dealer, negotiating a fair final price is an opportunity to save money and add things, like an extended warranty.

Research is paramount. Scour the market to ensure you know the boat’s value, taking into account what you learned during the viewing and trial.

Factor in deductions like repairs you’ll have to make, and accessories that add to the price.

Once you’ve calculated the value to you, make your offer.

A written offer with a cash deposit will show you mean business but remember: the strongest negotiating position is being willing to walk away from a deal that’s not right for you.

Expect to go through a few rounds of negotiation with counteroffers before you and the seller settle on a final figure.

To close the deal, the seller will require a deposit to take the boat off the market.

Draw up (or sign) a purchase and sale agreement, ensure you see a copy of the Personal Property Securities Register report (to ensure there’s no outstanding finance), and get a receipt of sale when you pay the balance.

Get Insured

Insurance is something you’ll always begrudge, but never regret.

Of course, the cost of insuring your pride and joy will depend on its age, speed, storage, size, how far and wide you travel in it, and whether you opt for “agreed value” or “actual cash value”.

Additionally, make sure you consider the weather where you live and sail (to decide if you’ll need to add storm coverage), and whether your boat’s likely to need towing or salvaging.

Finally, shop around, and talk to a broker about optional extras, such as ‘lay up’ cover – a great way to ‘pause’ your insurance policy and repayments while you’re not using your vessel.

As with all insurance, do your homework!

Transfer Registration

A key part of the post-purchase paperwork for used boats is the transfer of registration.

This needs to happen within 14 days of the final sale for all vessels documented on the Australian General Shipping Register.

Rego rules and fees vary state to state, and in some, it’s your responsibility to submit transfer documents, so check requirements with your local Department of Transport.

Questions To Ask When Buying A Boat

Can I afford this?

It’s vital not to get in over your head, so be honest with yourself. Then, ask experts about your finance options and always view a boat as an investment.

When should I service?

Every boat needs a different level of love, and service needs – and costs – vary based on where and how often you sail and where you store your boat. Factoring in maintenance now will save you later.

Where was the boat stored?

Sadly, lemons abound. If buying used, don’t be afraid to request records and ask about the history to ensure your dream boat doesn’t become a nightmare.

While owning a boat is all about being carefree, the process of buying one requires some effort.

By taking it one step at a time, asking clever questions, and using common sense, you can enjoy a safe, fun journey before you even hit the water.

Ready to get out on the water? Begin a no-obligation boat finance enquiry today!

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